A white homeowner has been charged with first-degree assault for shooting 16-year-old black boy Ralph Yarl after he rang his doorbell in Kansas City, Missouri, as prosecutors said he could spend the rest of his life in jail. Andrew Lester, 85, is facing two felony charges and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, according to Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson.
Thompson also said that there was a racial factor in the incident after the teenage musical scholar was shot twice, once in the head and once in the arm, after he rang the wrong doorbell when he went to pick up his younger brothers.
Almost Fatal Attack
Lester wasn't arrested immediately on Monday night. The suspect's bond was set at $200,000. He is charged with shooting musician and scholar Yarl twice through the front glass of the home, about a block from the place where his younger twin brothers were waiting to be picked up.
He arrived at the house via the driveway around 10 pm on April 13, rang the doorbell, and was then fatally shot by Lester, the owner of the house.
According to the prosecution, the charges carry a sentence of 10 to 30 years in jail or even life. "The defendant is charged with [a Class] A felony," Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson said at a Monday press conference. "It's the highest level offense in the state of Missouri."
Thompson mentioned "a racial component" to the case without going into further detail. 'I can tell you there was a racial component to the case,' said Thompson.
Lester, a white man, did not speak to Yarl, before reportedly shooting him through a glass door with a 32-caliber handgun on Thursday night. According to Thompson, there were no witnesses and no recordings of the encounter.
On Monday, it was revealed that the house where Yarl was shot had warnings against salesmen and trespassers.
There is a small sign that reads, "No Solicitors," just above the doorbell Yarl rang. Another sign on the side fence reads, "This property is protected by surveillance cameras."
It's still unclear if Yarl noticed any of the signs when he got to the house around 10:30 p.m. Prosecutors claim that the teen never went through the door.
In the Process of Recovery
Yarl was miraculously discharged from the hospital in just four days, according to Yarl's family attorney Benjamin Crump. "He continues to improve. He's responsive and he's making good progress," said Paul, his father.
"It was appropriate for the prosecutor to charge him and the only tragedy was that it took so long for them to charge him," Crump said.
"I think it is appropriate, you can't send a message to society that it's okay to shoot black people in the head just for ringing your doorbell."
On Monday, President Joe Biden called the Yarl family to extend an invitation to visit the White House once he feels better.
"Moments after the family got off the phone with President Biden, who offered his prayers for Ralph's health and for justice, we learned that the prosecutor will be charging the man who is responsible for the deplorable shooting of this innocent boy," Crump added.
"Gun violence against unarmed black individuals must stop. Our children should feel safe, not as though they are being hunted.
"While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for Ralph while he works towards a full recovery."
When Lester was questioned about why he wasn't charged with attempted murder, Thompson responded that they chose to charge him with a "felony" because it was the most serious offense.
"It is the highest level of offense in the state of Missouri," said Thompson.
"Other charges may not carry that same level of range of punishment."
The elderly homeowner was charged after Halle Berry and other celebrities called for justice for the shot teenager. According to the Academy Award-winning actress, the "innocent child" shouldn't have been shot.
"This could be your child. This should NOT happen. Please do something today!" she added.
Yarl's attorneys had criticized authorities on Sunday for not arresting the shooter right away.
"There can be no excuse for the release of this armed and dangerous suspect," attorneys Lee Merritt and Ben Crump said in a statement obtained by NBC News.
The "frustration" that many people have had as a result of the shooting was acknowledged by Thompson, but he stressed that every case is being investigated the same as any case.